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Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Kaori Otera Chen, NYS Writers Institute Graduate Assistant


I am an immigrant from Japan and have been living in the United States for 11 years. This is the first year I have heard about the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so I did a little research.


In 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The road to the official designation of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was long. It began in 1977 when NYS Congressman Frank J. Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 540 to publicly declare the first 10 days of May as Pacific Asian American Heritage Week. In 1978, the initiative evolved into Public Law 101-283 signed by President Jimmy Carter, proclaiming Asian Pacific American Heritage Week in May, starting on May 4, 1979. Read more.


You may wonder why May was chosen to celebrate the special cultures and histories of the Asian American Pacific Islander community which are important parts of the American mosaic. May commemorates the arrival of the first immigrants from Japan to the United States on May 7, 1843, as well as the completion of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.


There are a lot of good resources to learn about the parts of American history and PBS documentary series, "Asian Americans" is one of them. The series of five documentary films depicts the rich histories and cultures of the Asian American Pacific Islander Community in the United States. The films were created by a team of Asian American filmmakers including Renee Tajima-Peña, whose film “Who Killed Vincent Chin” (1987) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. (Sidenote: This year we finally have the first Asian woman filmmaker, Chloe Zhao, to receive an Academy Award for Best Director!)

For book lovers, New York Public Library offers lists of new books for adults, children, and teens. Read more.


The library's book list for adults includes Bestiary: A Novel by K-Ming Chang, who was one of the NYS Writers Institute’s virtual guests in 2020. You can watch the video conversation with writers K-Ming Chang and Kazim Ali here.

Kazim Ali is a UAlbany alumni and a person of Indian descent whose memoir Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water was published in March 2021.


Here is a collection of some of the other AAPI authors and notables the Writers Institute has recently brought to Albany. Each name links to their page in our Archives.

For art lovers, the Courthouse Gallery Lake at George Arts Project is showing a special exhibition of the artwork by Paul Akira Miyamoto entitled "Go Home." Miyamoto’s grandparents, parents, and oldest sibling were forced to live in one of the internment camps in Arizona during the Second World War and his paintings are affected by the experience.


The exhibition is open to the public to view until June 5, 2021. More information about the exhibition: https://www.lakegeorgearts.org/event/paul-miyamoto/ You can learn more about the artist: https://www.paulmiyamotoart.com/


"No Home" Paul Miyamoto. Oil on canvas, 30 x 24”, 2021